As part of Google’s “advanced protection program”, the tech giant has announced that it will be giving physical USB security keys to some of its highest-risk users.
These USB security keys will be given out for free to some of the world’s high-profile, most at-risk users, including human rights activists and politicians to protect their security.
The keys will provide two-factor authentication for the users, which is an additional layer of security and gives more protection than a password alone.
Approximately 10,000 users will initially be given the “Titan” security keys for free. They are normally available to buy for roughly $41. In its blog post, Google said it will also be partnering with several third-party organizations to distribute the keys as quickly as possible.
Warnings issued to Google users
This latest update follows recent news that Google sent thousands of warnings to its users after they were targeted by hackers in a campaign in late September.
Google’s Threat Analysis Group said that about 14,000 Gmail accounts “across a wide variety of industries” were targeted in the attack.
According to the report, were carried out by the Russian-linked hacking group APT28 and was a phishing attempt designed to trick users into disclosing their passwords and personal details.
Shane Huntley, who is head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group said in a Twitter thread that the latest warnings should not come as a surprise “if you are an activist/journalist/government official, or work in NatSec [National Security]”.
Google said that the emails were successfully blocked and, as well as providing users with the free security eys, it will also be auto-enrolling an additional 150 million users – including two million YouTube creators – in a two-factor authentication system.
Additionally, the company says it will automatically enroll new users in this more secure process from next year to prevent future attacks.